Radiographic examination of Thoroughbred racehorses at the time of the yearling sales is common practice in South Africa. Although it is generally accepted that yearlings will have some radiographic changes, there is only one study that estimated the prevalence of these changes in Thoroughbred racehorse yearlings in South Africa. Furniss et al reported on the occurrence of radiographic abnormalities over a one-year period (Furniss 2011). Furniss et al. study differs from other studies in that there was a higher prevalence of palmar metacarpophalangeal and plantar metatarsophalangeal osteochondral fragments and a lower prevalence of pedal osteitis, dorsal osteochondral fragmentation of the metatarsophalangeal joint, distal metacarpal saggital ridge changes, ulnar carpal bone lucencies, carpal osteophytes, distal intertarsal and tarsometatarsal joint changes, tarsal osteochondrosis lesions and stifle osteochondrosis lesions was found.
This study will further assist practitioners to identify joints where the most prevalent changes are likely to occur.
Our objective was to describe the prevalence and distribution of radiographic changes in the metacarpophalangeal joint, metatarsophalangeal joint, carpi, tarsi, stifle and fore digits of racing Thoroughbred yearlings in South Africa when examined as part of a pre-purchase examination during the Annual National Yearling Sales extending from 2008 through 2010.
Thoroughbred racehorse yearlings were subjected to radiographic evaluation including the digit (n= 566 ), metacarpophalangeal joint (n=566 ), metatarsophalangeal joint (n= 566), carpi (n= 566), tarsi (n= 566) and stifle (n=566 ). The radiographic changes were categorised by location and type of change present for each series.
Where informal comparisons with previously published data can be made, similar changes of pedal osteitis were recorded in this study, with a total percentage of 6.7%.
There was an 8.7% prevalence of inversion of the third pedal bone. Other studies describing radiographic changes in Thoroughbred racehorse yearlings did not investigate inversion of the third pedal bone, therefore results cannot be compared.
The metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints with proximal The metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints with proximal sesamoid bones
The prevalence of dorsoproximal phalanx one fragmentation (1.2%) of metacarpophalangeal joints were similar compared to other studies. Osteochondral fragmentation of proximal plantar phalanx one (6%) was 8.5 times more prevalent when compared to proximal palmar phalanx one (0.7%). The latter prevalence is in agreement with similar studies. There were low incidences of subchondral cyst-like lesions seen in distal third metacarpus (0.4%), distal third metatarsus (0.2%) and proximal first phalanx, similar to other studies. The most common change recorded on the dorsal aspect of distal third metacarpus and metatarsus was a well-defined semi-circular notch (dorsal aspect of distal third metacarpus 20.3%; dorsal aspect of distal third metatarsus 27%) similar to other studies. Our study showed a higher prevalence of lucencies present at dorsal aspect of distal third metacarpus (8.5%) and metatarsus (4.2%) compared to other studies.
There was a marked lower prevalence in the current study of flat distal palmar third metacarpal condyles (6%). Prevalence of palmar and plantar third metacarpal and metatarsal supracondylar lysis were markedly higher in the present study. Slight palmar and plantar third metacarpus and metatarsus supracondylar lysis was seen in 19.3% of the horses. Moderate to extreme palmar and plantar third metacarpus and metatarsus supracondylar lysis were present in 10.2% of the horses.
There was a higher prevalence of dorsomedial carpal disease in our study population (11.3%) and prevalence of carpal osseous cyst-like lesions such as a circular lucency in ulnar carpal bone was lower (14%). A markedly higher prevalence of 4.2% in carpal osteochondral fragmentation was found.
Osteochondrosis of the tarsocrural joint showed a similar prevalence (13.4 %). Degenerative joint disease of tarsometatarsal joint had a higher prevalence (36%) than the centrodistal (distal intertarsal) joint (20.3%). There was also a higher incidence of degenerative joint disease in tarsometatarsal joint (36%).
In the current study, osteochondrosis of the stifle had a similar prevalence (3.6%) when compared to other studies. 6
In South Africa Thoroughbred racehorse yearlings, radiographic changes most commonly involved the metacarpo- and metatarsophalangeal joints, carpi and tarsi.
This study revealed markedly higher prevalence of palmar and plantar third metacarpal and metatarsal supracondylar lysis (slight 19.3% and moderate to extreme 10.2%), carpal osteochondral fragmentation (4.2%) and degenerative joint disease in tarsometatarsal joint (36%).
Establishment of normal prevalence and distribution of radiographic changes in South Africa Thoroughbred yearlings will allow for comparison with populations of young horses worldwide. Knowledge of the normal prevalence will assist veterinarians to identify joints in which radiographic changes are most likely to occur.